29 May 2005


We went out this evening to get the pool set up in preparation for filling with water tomorrow. While Mum was straighening the outdoor carpet that's there to help keep dirt out of the pool, what we though was a rather large salamander went scurrying out, and under another piece of carpet. I didn't want it to get stepped on (and I can't resist amphibians and reptiles), so I went in chase, only to discover that there was also a little garter snake under there. It was a pretty yellow-striped black one, and probably one of this year's babies (under six inches, anyway). Imagine trying to catch a fast-moving salamander with one hand (the other being occupied with the snake). I finally realized it would be easier to catch the one if I let the other go, so I freed little snake in the brush where the cats wouldn't be likely to find him. The supposed salamander had moved along under the edge of the carpet, so I followed, only to be distracted by another snake, also a small one, but a draber brown with olive stripes. I caught him (snake number two) and let him go in the brush. Mr Salamander, meanwhile, scurried into the basket of toys, and Mum began to straighten the carpet I'd messed up. She lifed up the end, only to find . . . yes, more snakes. Four or five of them. Snakes in all directions and me in the middle trying to catch them all (we wouldn't want any to get stepped on, now would we?). They ranged in size from a brand-new three-inch long baby to a big ol' grandfather snake (well, maybe a middle-aged snake). Of course, "big" for a garter snake is maybe not even an inch thick at the biggest part, and maybe not much more than two feet long. He was a pretty fellow, with bright blue stripes.

All the snakes caught and safely let go in the bushes (or chased there) (there were cats lurking about), I turned my attention back to Mr Salamander, maybe. He'd come out the other side of the toy basket and was heading for the brush, but I had to catch him anyway. I'd never seen one so big (around five inches long, at a guess). I did catch him, and he sat quite calmly in my grip, with his prickly little claws on my fingers. And he wasn't a salamander. Mum and I both had assumed he was, since we see salamanders fairly often (though mostly I've seen wee little two-inch red-backed salamanders, and one slightly larger rough-skinned newt). This fellow was something I hadn't seen before, though I knew they were around--a northern alligator lizard, our only native lizard on Vancouver Island. It was pretty cool. We had a good look at him (I say "him" only because he kind of looked like a boy; could very well have been female), and then I let him go in the bushes.

After that, I walked around grinning like a fool and giggling. It was very cool.

27 May 2005

Fey, Once Again

Here's page 2 of "Meddlesome Spirits." I decided to post it as written. I may re-do and expand it some time in the future, but not just now. In the meantime, I'm trying to get ahead on Drawing Borders part 3.

26 May 2005

One Week to 33

You know, for some reason, I have it stuck in my head that I was born on a Thursday. I don't know why. I looked it up a long time ago, and can't remember whether it turned out to be true or not. Perhaps I shall go look now . . .

Hunh. Apparently, it was a Friday. I wonder why Thursday is stuck in my head.

Anyway, this year my birthday is on a Thursday. Next Thursday, in fact. I kind of like the idea of having two threes in my age. Some remnant of my superstitious self that knows threes are important in Western European myth and lore. That bit of myself also knows that Thursday is named for Thor:
Thor is the wielder of Mjollnir and the defender of Asgard. He is described as a massive red-bearded champion wearing iron gloves and a belt/girdle of might, Megingjardir. He is the only god forbidden to cross Bifrost, for fear that his lightnings could destroy the bridge or that he would set it aflame by the heat of his presence. Thor rides in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngniost (Toothgnasher) and Tanngrisnir (Toothgrinder). The rolling of the wheels of this chariot is said to create the thunder that rolls across the heavens.
What this actually has to do with anything, I leave up to you.

Friday, of course, is named for Freya:
The goddess of love and fertility, she came to Asgard with her brother, Freyr, and her father, Njord. Freya was exceedingly beautiful and many fell in love with her, including giants, dwarfs and men. Freya is said to have a talent for witchcraft and it is said that when she came to Asgard she instructed the gods about magic charms and potions. Freya also has a warlike side and shares Odhinn's love of battle. She and Odhinn share the slain heroes between them, so that some go to Valhalla and others are chosen by Freya to be entertained at her hall, Sessrumnir. Freya's boar, the gold-bristled Hildisvini, was a symbol of war. As well as a boar chariot, Freya had a chariot pulled by two gray or black cats. She had a falcon skin that she sometimes donned to fly away. She lent the falcon skin to Loki in the stories of Idunn's Apples and The Theft of Thor's Hammer. Her most precious possession is the Brisings' Necklace.
(Some people think Friday is named for Frigga, but then some scholars says Freya and Frigga are two aspects of the same goddess.) In Diana Paxson's book Brisingamen, Freya's two cats are marmalade tabbies (or maybe just golden coloured), and are named Beegold and Treegold (well, the Norse equivalent)--Honey and Amber. Kennings are cool.

Right. Already I have received two birthday cards, but I won't describe them or their contents until my actual birthday, since I am not supposed to have opened them until then. Also, next Friday or Saturday there will be barbequeing going on. Some kind of ribs (bbq or sweet and sour), stuffed potatoes, corn on the cob, grilled veggie salad, and probably something involving a lot of chocolate for dessert (maybe a Baskin Robbins Chocolate Mousse Royale ice cream cake, but I don't know if there's a BR near enough by to get the cake here without melting). The point is, if you actually know me (and maybe even if you don't), you're invited, but RSVP so we can make sure there will be enough food (it's genetic in the Staniforth female line--must make sure there's enough food, which generally means we can feed several times the number actually attending, unless there are Staniforth males among the guests--it's genetic among them to eat a lot of mashed potatoes and then take home the leftovers).

23 May 2005

Yee Haw!

As I was just settling down to watch Myth Busters, a white car with "Ken Evans Ford" on the side (I think that's what it said) pulled into the driveway and someone got out with a box. They went to Sue's door. For some reason, delivery people nearly always go to Sue's door, but then it's hard to tell where the front of the house is, since it's actually backwards on the lot. Yay! It's my keyboard. Now I just need a USB cable for my cheapie new printer, and a USB hub so I can plug everything in (only two USB ports on the Mac, plus one on the keyboard--for a brief moment I thought there were two on the keyboard, but then I realized that one of them is for plugging in the cable the other end of which plugs into the computer). So now I finish playing Shivers 2 tonight if it kills me. Safecracker can wait for some upcoming rainy weekend when I feel like plugging the crapmachine back in.

Edit: Erm, it turns out I was right the first time. The Mac keyboard does have two USB ports, which means I won't need a hub right away.


No keyboard yet, but email has been sent to customer service. And it is a long weekend. So I spend the delay playing Shivers 2, which is alternately very, very good, and rather frustrating. And I discovered I also have Safecracker in my to-be-played-and-actually-works-on-my-machine pile. Don't know whether or not I'll get to it. I may hold off on taking the old machine apart, and set it up some weekend to play on. Or I might just not bother.

22 May 2005


Instead of fighting crowds of bargain-hunters and Victoria Day parade-goers to go to Value Village's 50% off sale tomorrow, we decided to hit VV in Victoria today (I remembered the advice of a MUN professor who said the best day to go to a VV sale was the afternoon or evening before--sure, you wouldn't get half-off, but you'd get your pick of the stuff they just put on the rack for the sale the next day). After loading down the cart with something like 15 assorted pairs of pants, I ended up with three. One pair of khaki green corduroys, one pair of brownish-blackish jeans, and one pair of black sort-of corduoy pants (which are on the rather snug side, but I'm on the way to not being so thick around the middle, and I expect they'll fit better fairly soon). Plus I also found a nice top, another belt (this one black with big silver grommets in), and a few more books. Two I won't mention because they're for my nephew, whose birthday is in July, and An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks. Then there were New York Fries, mocha frappuchino, and a chocolate peanutbutter oat bar. And home again.

21 May 2005

Good Things and Annoying Things

Good Thing #1: Much to my surprise, a nice delivery man appeared yesterday with my new baby in hand. The box is very, very small. I am now hurriedly finishing playing Shivers 2: Harvest of Souls so I can get the old clunker off my desk (and strip it of everything I can sell on eBay), and the lovely new piece of industrial sculpture (that doubles as a very nice computer) on my desk and working. It really is a pretty thing, and it even came with Tiger (that's Mac OS 10.4) which only just came out. Yay! I am a Mac Person again!

Annoying Thing #1: Upon inspecting the receipt from the courier much later, I discovered that there should have been two boxes, not one. The other one, presumably, would have my keyboard in it. I had simply assumed that it shipped later for some reason. Obviously, I should have looked at the thing I was signing more closely. So now I'm hoping they either showed up today and left it with Mum (I left a note on the door telling them to go next door if no one was home), or that they'll still show up. I'll have to check with Mum (I just got home from Value Village in Nanaimo). Otherwise, I'll have to look up the phone number of the Victoria office online (it's not on the receipt), and call them. I really, really hate having to call people. Especially about things I shouldn't have to be calling them about in the first place. Urgh.

Annoying Thing #2 (because I want to save something good for last): Sue and I ventured up to Nanaimo to go to Value Village (and also a couple dollar stores and the Sally Ann). I was in search of pants and a belt. I did find a good belt (though the one I really liked was too short). I tried on many, many pairs of pants. I even ventured up into the size 14s (at my plumpest, a 12 is usually big enough). Nothing fit! Some were too tight in the thighs, but fit elsewhere. Some didn't go over my butt. Some did go over my butt, and even did up, but there's no way I'd be able to sit down. The ones that actually did fit (all two pairs) were at least two inches too short. Is there no one . . .

Annoying Thing #3: Somehow between previewing and correcting this post, I managed to chop off the rest of the paragraph above, plus a big, long bit about all the books I got (which was Good Thing #2). Rather than re-type everything, for I am too sleepy, I'll just plug in the titles and authors. You can try to figure out why I chose the books I did, if you feel like it.

Good Thing #2: Books.

  • The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones.
  • The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson.
  • The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster.

  • Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print by Lawrence Block.
  • Search for a Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth by Eleanor Clymer.
  • The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner.
  • Words from the Land: Encounters with Natural History Writing edited by Stephen Trimble.
  • My Life in 'Toons by Joe Barbera.
  • Information Graphics: Innovative Solutions in Contemporary Design by Peter Wildbur and Michael Burke.

  • Nature, 13 April 2000.

20 May 2005

Argh, Part 394 (or so)

I really, really was going to start posting part 3 of Fey: Drawing Borders today. I intended to finish off the cover (all I needed to do was plop the art into a file and add the logo and text). I did not count on my [insert rude adjective here] computer. After restarting multiple times (including 3 just trying to make the file smaller so the logo would be the right size) I gave up.

So, instead of the cover for part 3, featuring Jack in the Old Country (and, naturally, the Old Days), you get page one of the first Fey short I wrote, Meddlesome Spirits ("Fleeing Arcadia" was the second one I did).

I kind of meant to revise this one, but I'm not sure now if I will. On the one hand, I probably could make it a better story, but on the other, I'm rather fond of it as it is, awkward bits included. I haven't decided what I'll do yet. I'll probably have a look at the notes I made when I was first thinking of revising it (mostly extending the lead-in, actually). I may add some pages, but will probably leave the rest as-is. We'll see. I will keep trying to get that stupid cover for part 3 done, too.

"Argh!" I say.

19 May 2005

Avast! More Birthday Ideas!

First, there's puppets. Marionettes, especially, though the Manhattan Toy Company makes some gorgeous dragon hand puppets.

And pretty much anything from this store: PirateMod. I especially like these skirts and these pants (especially the shorter ones), but all the t-shirts are cool, too (the girl-shaped ones, that is). I'm probably a size large these days.

17 May 2005

Two 3s are 33

Crap! I managed to close Netscape after finishing this post once already (except for the last few links). So here it goes again (probably a lot shorter).

Right. So I'm going to be 33 in a little over two weeks. I thought I'd make a list, in case anyone wanted to get me anything (but leaving off the expensive stuff, 'cause probably no one's going to get me a PSP). Here are a few things (not in any order, really):

And I'd better stop now, because it was while looking up magazine web pages that I screwed up this post last time. 33 here I come . . .

15 May 2005

Which Science Fiction Writer I Am

I am:
James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon)
In the 1970s she was perhaps the most memorable, and one of the most popular, short story writers. Her real life was as fantastic as her fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

(Via Making Light, where there's an interesting discussion about this very test.)

14 May 2005

Computer Woes

If you ever decide to buy a computer online, make sure you phone your bank and have them pre-authorize the transaction on your credit card. I didn't think to do that. Naturally, my card was declined (which would have been very nice, if it was someone other than me trying to use my card). So I phoned the bank, explained things, got transferred to the authorization department and was told by the nice young man that the transaction should go through now. Perhaps I should have been worried that he said "should." Next day, I got another email from Apple saying my card is still being declined. So I phone again (this time I go directly to the authorization department, since I got their number last time). The woman who helped me seemed rather more informed than the young man the last time, and after some rummaging in my file determined that said young man had only noted that I'd phoned to check my balance or something. He did nothing about authorizing the transaction. Now, after much irritation and me thinking that online computer shopping may not be so convenient after all, the transaction should go through (and yes, I am aware I said "should"). If it doesn't work this time, I'm cancelling the stupid thing and going to Compusmart to see if they can bung some more memory in a machine and sell it to me in person. Sheesh!

13 May 2005

Beagle's Unicorns

Hey, could somebody please get me this for my birthday? (Yeah, I know it's coming out in June, which makes it a little late for my birthday, but I don't care. I'll wait. Peter Beagle reading The Last Unicorn, plus a signed, limited hardcover of the brand-new sequel!! Pretty please? With sugar on? And a cherry?

Fey Part 2 Concludes

Yep. I just posted page 44, which brings us to the end of part 2. It also brings me to the end of pages-already-drawn, because I have slowly but surely managed to lose the 8-week lead I gained when I subjected you all to "Fleeing Arcadia" between parts 1 and 2. I might have to pull a stunt like that again--I've still got the 8-page "Meddling Spirits," but it really needs to be re-written and expanded. I might do that next, instead of moving on to part 3 (or at the same time as)--part 3 is only in the rough outline stage at the moment, and I'm not sure I'll be ready to draw it soon enough (except the cover, which recycles one of the first drawings I ever did of Jack, and which is half done now).

There's still an awful long way to go on this story, and an awful lot of things banging around in my head that need to happen. I so wish I could create this thing faster. I need to get it done so I can go on to the next project (also a Fey story, but shorter), and the next one . . . Being less sleepy would help. Having better time management would help. The second I can work on, but the first I just have to hope will improve with more exercise and less caffeine.

And speaking of exercise, I've decided to ask my doctor to inject cortisone (or whatever it was she mentioned) into the ganglion on my right wrist, which will--hopefully--collapse it. I can't bend my wrist all the way, which makes doing pushups awkward and quickly painful. It doesn't hurt so much I can't do pushups, but I don't want to damage myself any more than I already have.

06 May 2005

More Fey

Er. I fixed a few more things, and now page 43 is up. And as of today, I've finished with part 2 (though there's still one more page to come for those of you who are reading it). I'm going to try to get the cover for part 3 done today--at least the non-computer parts. Right now I'm going to eat something, because I seem to have forgotten lunch.

Fey at Home

I finally started moving things from my old Geocities site to my very own domain. There's not much there yet, so don't get too excited. Fey's got it's own subdomain, here, but right now it just looks like the Geocities site. Next task is to stick redirects up at the old site, then get some nice graphics going so fey.whiteravenarts.com actually looks like it contains a comic you might want to read. After that I'll move the rest of my junk off Geocities. The good news is, though, that I'm now in no danger of running out of webspace, and it's possible to read everything in one sitting without running out of bandwidth. Now, I'm off to finish up this week's page.

Edit: Erm, yes. I fixed the file name/file path errors in "Fleeing Arcadia," so if anyone was trying to look at it, it actually works now. And if you happen to encounter any dead links, missing pictures, or other screw-ups, pleasepleaseplease let me know so I can fix them.

05 May 2005

The Atheist

This article is worth clicking on for the graphic alone. It made me laugh, and then chortle. And chuckle. I think I'll make it my new desktop wallpaper. Also, it's a good interview of Richard Dawkins:
It's said that the only rational stance is agnosticism because you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the supernatural creator. I find that a weak position. It is true that you can't disprove anything but you can put a probability value on it. There's an infinite number of things that you can't disprove: unicorns, werewolves, and teapots in orbit around Mars. But we don't pay any heed to them unless there is some positive reason to think that they do exist.
"Teapots in orbit around Mars." Heh. I usually use the example "invisible pink elephants dancing on my front lawn," but I like Martian teapots better. (Oh yeah, it's worth sitting through the ad to get the whole article.)
And the fact that my life is finite, and that it's the only life I've got, makes me all the more eager to get up each morning and set about the business of understanding more about the world into which I am so privileged to have been born.

(Link via Bookslut.)

04 May 2005

NSCAD Admissions Essay

I have always wanted to create books. Since I first learned that pencils make marks on paper, since I first discovered the alphabet, I have been making stories with pictures and words. When I first started university, I was going to study creative writing and visual art, but I soon learned that I needed to know more about what "story" is before I could feel comfortable creating my own stories, my own books.

By studying archaeology, I discovered the stories of who we humans are as a species, the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and our many distinct cultures. I learned how to pass on the stories archaeologists tell about the past in pictures -– in drawings and photographs -– as well as in words both academic and popular.

From there I went further into the depths of "story" when I chose to do graduate studies in folklore. I learned not only what stories are told, but what those stories might mean to the people who tell them. And those stories, too, are passed on by means other than words. They are passed on in gestures, in the pictures painted on the sides of blanket boxes, in the names and shapes of boats, and the way particular foods are prepared.

Only then did I feel ready to tell my own stories. I returned to the city of my birth to study writing, bringing with me all the things I'd learned about storytelling in school and from moving from place to place all my life. Victoria –- Halifax -– Virginia Beach -– Toronto -– Ottawa -– Beaver Creek -– Calgary -– Resolute Bay -– St John's. Through stories I sought to find an answer to that question everyone asks: "So where are you from?"

I have improved my ability to tell stories with words, but now I need to go back to my beginnings, to where I made my stories -- my little books of folded paper -- with words and pictures together. And I want to discover new ways of telling stories, of communicating. Can I tell a story with a sculpture? Can a single image be a book? What other ways can I put text and images together? Is there a way to make a story out of an advertisement for someone else's product?

It's time for me to close the circle and make books again, books I always imagined I would make, and books of kinds I never knew existed -- or could exist. That is why I'm applying to NSCAD. I think it's the right place -- it feels like the right place -- to find that last piece of "story."

02 May 2005

Oh Yeah

I have a student number! Hee hee.

Holy Crap! Or, I Did It, I Did It, I Did It!

Here's something from today's mail (the actual physical, comes-in-an-envelope kind):
Dear M. Nicole Silvester:

I am pleased to inform you of your acceptance to the Foundation Program of NSCAD University for the semester that begins Fall 2005.

There's more, of course, but it's all details about how to accept the offer of admission, and how much of a deposit to pay and all that. But holy crap! I got accepted. Now I need to celebrate. I think I'll go order my Mac. (And then start listing my worldly goods on eBay to pay for it.) Holy crap!

Of course, now I just have to figure how I'm going to get me and my essential effects to Halifax, find a place to live (that allows cats--Darwin can stay with Sue, but Bast doesn't play well with others of her species) (oh, and does anyone want a pet rabbit?), and pay my tuition. I plan to keep my About job as long as I can manage it, so that should take care of most of the day-to-day expenses. I guess it's time for a trip to studentawards.com to see what free money I might qualify for.

Aaah! (Did I say "holy crap!" often enough?)